I find it semi-amusing that much of the media is debating whether or not Eli Manning is elite. Why is that? Only because over five months ago – yes, before the season started – I wrote that he was. It came on the heels of his Michael Kay interview where Manning said he deserved to be in the same class as Tom Brady and the “elite” quarterbacks.
I’m now going to take things a step further because the debate has seemingly ballooned into whether Eli is a Hall of Fame quarterback. Many are saying if the Giants win on Sunday, Eli will have locked in a trip to Canton. My question to everyone is, “Why?” Why does a second ring carry all of the weight of determining if Eli is a Hall of Famer?
You know how many QBs have two or more Super Bowl titles? Just 10. How many QBs are in the Hall of Fame? 31. Plus, two of the 10 QBs with more than one ring are still playing: Tom Brady and Ben Roethlisberger. There are plenty of QBs in the Hall that never even won a title, and in fact, I wrote about how championships shouldn’t determine greatest just a few weeks ago. So if championships don’t equate to guaranteed greatness, why are they used to strengthen a Hall of Fame case?
When it’s all said and done, Eli Manning is a Hall of Fame quarterback even if the Giants lose on Sunday. Forget that he’s led his team to two Super Bowls, already won one and took home the MVP in that game; Eli’s body of work already has him headed down the road to Canton.
Let’s assume Eli plays just six more years like big bro – not because of the neck issue with Peyton, but just for comparison’s sake. At Eli’s current career pace, his final numbers will look like this: 50,324 passing yards and 338 TDs. Where do those stats rank all time? Oh, simply fifth overall both in yards and TDs. Even assuming that Drew Brees and Tom Brady surpass him, Eli would still finish seventh in both. Many don’t realize that Eli already ranks 51st in passing yards and 42nd in TDs in just seven and “a half” seasons. But what makes Eli truly special is his late-game heroics.
This year, Eli broke the record for most fourth-quarter TD passes with 15. The record previous belonged to his brother Peyton and Johnny Unitas with 14. Taking it a step further, Eli ranks 30th overall in Game-Winning Drives and 21st in Comebacks. It’s safe to say at this rate, Eli will find himself in that same Top Five-to-Seven area by the time he retires.
Sure, a second Super Bowl title will look nice on Eli’s resume, but it will only be the icing on the delicious cake of a career Eli has put together.
In addition to covering the NFL, MLB, NBA, and College Football for RotoExperts, Jake Ciely (a.k.a "All In Kid") is also a poker fiend and a Maharishi in the world of sports wagering. Jake was a finalist for the FSWA's 2010 Newcomer of the Year award. You may email Jake @ firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @JakeAllinCiely